Ergometer training is routinely used in stroke rehabilitation. How robust is the evidence of its effects?
Background: Independently, cross-education, the performance improvement of the untrained limb following unilateral training, and mirror therapy have shown to improve lower limb functioning poststroke. Mirror therapy has shown to augment the cross-education effect in healthy populations. However, this concept has not yet been explored in a clinical setting.
Objectives: This study set out to investigate the feasibility and potential efficacy of applying cross-education combined with mirror therapy compared with cross-education alone for lower limb recovery poststroke.
Methods: Thirty-one chronic stroke participants (age 61.7 ± 13.3) completed either a unilateral strength training (ST; n = 15) or unilateral strength training with mirror-therapy (MST; n = 16) intervention. Both groups isometrically strength trained the less-affected ankle dorsiflexors three times per week for 4 weeks. Only the MST group observed the mirror reflection of the training limb. Patient eligibility, compliance, treatment reliability, and outcome measures were assessed for feasibility. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC; peak torque, rate of torque development, and average torque), 10-m walk test, timed up and go (TUG), Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), and the London Handicap Scale (LHS) were assessed at pretraining and posttraining.
Results: Treatment and assessments were well tolerated without adverse effects. No between group differences were identified for improvement in MVC, MAS, TUG, or LHS. Only the combined treatment was associated with functional improvements with the MST group showing an increase in walking velocity.
Conclusion: Cross-education plus mirror therapy may have potential for improving motor function after stroke. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the combination treatment and the need for future studies with larger sample sizes to investigate the effectiveness of the treatment.
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) to reduce lower limb spasticity in adult stroke survivors.
Data Sources: A systematic review of Medline/Pubmed, CENTRAL, CINAHL, PEDro database, REHABDATA, Scielo, Scopus, Web of Science, Trip Database, and Epistemonikos from 1980 to December 2018 was carried out.
Review Methods: The bibliography was screened to identify clinical trials (controlled and before-after) that used ESWT to reduce spasticity in stroke survivors. Two reviewers independently screened references, selected relevant studies, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias by PEDro scale. The primary outcome was spasticity.
Results: A total of 12 studies (278 participants) were included (5 randomized controlled trials, 1 controlled trial, and 6 before-after studies). A meta-analysis was performed by randomized controlled trials. A beneficial effect on spasticity was found. The mean difference (MD) was 0.58; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.30 to 0.86 and also in subgroup analysis (short, medium, and long term). The MD for range of motion was 1.81; CI −0.20 to 3.82 and for lower limb function the standard mean difference (SMD) was 0.34; 95% CI −0.09 to 0.77. Sensitivity analysis demonstrated a better beneficial effect for myotendinous junction. MD was 1.5; 95% CI −2.44 to 5.44 at long-term (9 weeks).
Conclusion: The ESWT (radial/focused) would be a good non-invasive rehabilitation strategy in chronic stroke survivors to reduce lower limb spasticity, increase ankle range of motion, and improve lower limb function. It does not show any adverse events and it is a safe and effective method.
Objective: To determine current evidence for casting as an adjunct therapy following botulinum toxin injection for adult limb spasticity.
Design: The databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched for English language studies from 1990 to August 2018. Full-text studies using a casting protocol following botulinum toxin injection for adult participants for limb spasticity were included. Studies were graded according to Sackett’s levels of evidence, and outcome measures were categorized using domains of the International Classification of Disability, Functioning and Health. The review was prepared and reported according to PRISMA guidelines.
Results: Five studies, involving a total of 98 participants, met the inclusion criteria (2 randomized controlled trials, 1 pre-post study, 1 case series and 1 case report). Casting protocols varied widely between studies; all were on casting of the lower limbs. There is level 1b evidence that casting following botulinum toxin injection improves spasticity outcomes compared with stretching and taping, and that casting after either botulinum toxin or saline injections is better than physical therapy alone.
Conclusion: The evidence suggests that adjunct casting of the lower limbs may improve outcomes following botulinum toxin injection. Casting protocols vary widely in the literature and priority needs to be given to future studies that determine which protocol yields the best results.
The recovery of walking capacity is one of the main aims in stroke rehabilitation. Being able to predict if and when a patient is going to walk after stroke is of major interest in terms of management of the patients and their family’s expectations and in terms of discharge destination and timing previsions. This article reviews the recent literature regarding the predictive factors for gait recovery and the best recommendations in terms of gait rehabilitation in stroke patients. Trunk control and lower limb motor control (e.g. hip extensor muscle force) seem to be the best predictors of gait recovery as shown by the TWIST algorithm, which is a simple tool that can be applied in clinical practice at 1 week post-stroke. In terms of walking performance, the 6-min walking test is the best predictor of community ambulation. Various techniques are available for gait rehabilitation, including treadmill training with or without body weight support, robotic-assisted therapy, virtual reality, circuit class training and self-rehabilitation programmes. These techniques should be applied at specific timing during post-stroke rehabilitation, according to patient’s functional status.
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Purpose: To assess the effects of lower limb robotic exoskeletons on outcomes in the rehabilitation of people with acquired brain injury.
Materials and methods: A systematic review of seven electronic databases was conducted. The primary outcome of interest was neuromuscular function. Secondary outcomes included quality of life, mood, acceptability and safety. Studies were assessed for methodological quality and recommendations were made using the GRADE system.
Results: Of 2469 identified studies, 13 (n = 322) were included in the review. Five contained data suitable for meta-analysis. When the data were pooled, there were no differences between exoskeleton and control for 6-Minute Walk Test, Timed Up and Go or 10-Meter Walk Test. Berg Balance Scale outcomes were significantly better in controls (MD = 2.74, CI = 1.12–4.36, p = 0.0009). There were no severe adverse events but drop-outs were 11.5% (n = 37). No studies reported the effect of robotic therapy on quality of life or mood. Methodological quality was on average fair (15.6/27 on Downs and Black Scale).
Conclusions: Only small numbers of people with acquired brain injury had data suitable for analysis. The available data suggests no more benefit for gait or balance with robotic therapy than conventional therapy. However, some important outcomes have not been studied and further well-conducted research is needed to determine whether such devices offer benefit over conventional therapy, in particular subgroups of those with acquired brain injury.
BACKGROUND: Lower limb support ability is important for steady and efficient mobility, but previous data commonly involved training during double stance positions, with or without external feedback, using a complex and costly machine.
AIM: To compare the effects of stepping training with or without external feedback in relation to the lower limb support ability of the affected limb on the functional ability necessary for independence in individuals with stroke.
DESIGN: A single-blinded, randomised controlled trial.
SETTING: Tertiary rehabilitation centres.
POPULATION: Ambulatory participants with stroke who walked independently over at least 10 meters with or without walking devices.
METHODS: Thirty-six participants were randomly arranged to be involved in a program of stepping training with or without external feedback related to the lower limb support ability of the affected limb (18 participants/group) for 30 minutes, followed by overground walking training for 10 minutes, 5 days/week over 4 weeks. The outcomes, including the lower limb support ability of the affected legs during stepping, functional ability and spatial walking data, were assessed prior to training, immediately after the first training session, and after 2- and 4- week training.
RESULTS: Participants demonstrated significant improvement in the amount of lower limb support ability, immediately after the first training with external feedback. Then, these participants showed further improvement in both the amount and duration of lower limb support ability, as well as the timed up and go data after 2 and 4 weeks of training (p < 0.05). This improvement was not found following control training.
CONCLUSIONS: The external feedback relating to lower limb support ability during stepping training effectively improved the movement stability and complex motor activity of ambulatory individuals with stroke who had long post-stroke time (approximately 3 years).
CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Stepping training protocols and feedback can be easily applied in various settings using the amount of body-weight from an upright digital bathroom scale. Thus, the findings offer an alternative rehabilitation strategy for clinical, community and home-based settings for stroke individuals.
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Ergometer training is routinely used in stroke rehabilitation. How robust is the evidence of its effects?
The PubMed database and PEDro database were reviewed prior to 22/01/2019.
Randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of ergometer training on stroke recovery were selected.
Two reviewers independently selected the studies, performed independent data extraction, and assessed the risk of bias.
A total of 28 studies (including 1115 stroke subjects) were included. The data indicates that
(1) ergometer training leads to a significant improvement of walking ability, cardiorespiratory fitness, motor function and muscular force of lower limbs, balance and postural control, spasticity, cognitive abilities, as well as the brain’s resistance to damage and degeneration,
(2) neuromuscular functional electrical stimulation assisted ergometer training is more efficient than ergometer training alone,
(3) high-intensity ergometer training is more efficient that low-intensity ergometer training, and
(4) ergometer training is more efficient than other therapies in supporting cardiorespiratory fitness, independence in activities of daily living, and balance and postural control, but less efficient in improving walking ability.
Ergometer training can support motor recovery after stroke. However, current data is insufficient for evidence-based rehabilitation. More data is required about the effects of ergometer training on cognitive abilities, emotional status, and quality of life in stroke subjects.